Potential plumbing problems when you move
Thinking of moving? How to spot if there could be potential plumbing problems before you sign on the dotted line.
Moving home is stressful enough, without discovering hidden plumbing problems, in your bathroom or kitchen, once you have moved in.
Luckily, we know what to look for. We can help you spot some of those tell-tale signs (our plumbing 101, if you like) that mean you can get them checked out before you commit to buy, saving you from having your dream home turn into a plumbing nightmare.
1) Flushing it out
When you look round a property, you should try turning the taps on and off. This will allow you to check that they are in good working order and the sink drains freely.
When you are in the WC or bathroom it may seem cheeky to ask if you can flush the loo… but there is a valid reason. Does it continually run, does it back up or does it even flush? If you don’t check then you may find you get more than you bargained for when you “spend a penny” as it could turn into pounds, getting it fixed.
2) Look at the ceilings as well as the floors
Jazzy tiling and beautiful floors can hide a lot, but ceilings can’t. Checking out the ceiling below a bathroom can be very revealing. Does the ceiling appear to be newly painted or does it have a patch that is whiter than the rest?
If so, this could indicate that there has been a leak in past and that the ceiling has been painted to hide the tell-tale signs of a yellow or brown stain. It may be that it’s all been repaired and nothing to worry about, but it’s still worth checking out.
3) We’ve all heard the phrase don’t sniff, but in this case do…
Most people will instantly recognise the smell of damp, and will know that where there is damp, mould and fungus thrive. However, even if you haven’t encountered it before if something smells a bit funny when you approach the bathroom or kitchen it could be more than just last night’s dinner.
A fungal or musty smell like mushrooms can indicate a long-term mould problem which could come from a long-term leak. Visual signs such as mould or mildew can also indicate long term issues. Although these are common in the corners of a bath or shower tray and along the sealant/grout and are less of a concern.
It may even feel damp (bathrooms are wet places so moisture is common, but this will feel above and beyond the usual). Check out the wallpaper – is it peeling? Do tiles on the walls feel loose? Look at the skirting is it discoloured, flaking or mouldy – if so, these are indicators that there has been a leak which could still be ongoing. This should be checked out as soon as possible for plumbing problems.
4) Poke and prod it
Sometimes it’s hard to see a problem, it can be well hidden behind a clean façade. For example, wet rooms can have huge problems with leaks occurring and only being noticed if they flood through the floor below or tiles that start to lift.
From cracks in tiles, missing sealant and grout, tiles that move, to water that doesn’t drain and spongy walls, these are all some of the indicators that something is amiss.
If you are unsure, ask, has there been any history of a leak, if so, what has been done to rectify it? It’s worth noting that with wet rooms, it’s common for the problem to re-occur and that it might need a total strip-out and refit in order to ensure no further damage or leaks occur.
If there is missing grout or sealant, don’t be afraid to prod the area around it. Test the walls – do they feel like normal walls or do they feel spongy. Not sure? Test an area away from where it would get wet and then try again. Feels different – it could be a hidden leak and worth checking out.
Pipes may not be top of your list to take a look at, and let’s face it one pipe looks very much like the next. It is worth asking if the current owners know what the pipes are made of and if they have updated them. Why? Because lead pipes can still be found in homes today – if your desired home is older than 50 years then it’s definitely worth getting them looked at by a professional.
Lead piping can have significant health issues. The older the property gets the heavier the corroding and the more lead that leaks into the water that comes into contact with them. This is a health risk for anyone but particularly for young children.
If you suspect you may have lead piping then do get your plumber to look at replacing these as soon as possible to save you and your family/friends from any ill-effects.
6) That sinking feeling
Taking a peek around the sink may sound like we are suggesting you be very nosy and invasive; however, it makes good sense to check under the sink and behind it if you can. Whether it’s in the kitchen, utility, WC or bathroom.
Whilst we appreciate that we may find more that we would want in the form of cobwebs and critters, you may also see evidence of a leak or corroded plumbing.
Running your fingers (if you dare!) around and down the joints can give you an idea. If they are wet, it could be a leak. However, it could just be some vigorous splashing, so it always pays to check under the pipes and the floor – does it feel wet, does it look stained?
It may not be apparent, as the leak may have been cleared up, you could try running a tap and then checking… does it cause a drip to form? Whilst it may appear invasive, it’s sometimes better to be safe than sorry.
Don’t be put off, always take a closer look, to avoid plumbing problems. Do ask permission first – most sellers will be happy to help, if it’s going to help their sale go through quicker. By taking a closer look you can avoid missing these early warning signs that something is not right.
If in doubt, ask if you can bring your plumber round for an independent review. Ultimately, your plumber is in the best position to help you and ensure that you aren’t left thinking “wat-er” disaster!!
If you live in the Barnsley, Chesterfield, Doncaster Dronfield, Mansfield, Rotherham Sheffield or Wath-upon-Dearne and need a professional, reliable plumber look no further. You are always in good hands when you call Bradley Plumbing and Heating. T. 07917 776549.